Shelter that discriminated against transgender woman agrees to stop discriminating, train its staff on trans sensitivity, and make its facilities safer for trans people
A DC transgender resident named Lakiesha Washington, Transgender Health Empowerment (a drop-in center for LGBT people), and DC Trans Coalition have won a major victory for transgender homeless people.
As the Washington Blade reported earlier this week, Lakiesha Washington sued New Hope Ministries–operator of the John L Young Women’s Shelter–for discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. On April 3, 2013, Washington attempted to get a bed in the John L Young Shelter, and was turned away, being told (as is noted in Ms. Washington’s complaint), “We don’t do transgenders here. You have to leave.”
Washington, and the lawyer representing her–DC Trans Coalition member Jeffrey Light–negotiated with New Hope Ministries through this last week that New Hope would agree to a Temporary Restraining Order allowing Washington (and all transgender women) into the shelter. Furthermore, New Hope Ministries has arranged to give its staff transgender sensitivity training (as put on by Transgender Health Empowerment’s Earline Budd, and the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs), and improve the privacy of its bathroom and shower facilities so that no one will be outed on the basis of their genitalia.
DC Trans Coalition member Andy Bowen, who filed an Office of Human Rights complaint about John L Young in February 2013, will withdraw her complaint, which had just entered the mediation and investigation stage.
“This is a great day for all transgender people,” said Washington. “Nobody should have to face discrimination and humiliation, and thanks to this case, homeless transgender people will be now be safer.”
“DC has great nondiscrimination laws, but good laws do not equal adequate enforcement,” said Bowen. “This case showed the need for more vigilant enforcement, and if DC Trans Coalition has anything to do with it, enforcement’s gonna happen.”
For more information, contact Andy Bowen at andymbowen [at] gmail [dot] com.
We wanted to make sure you were aware that we’re making a bit of a change to our regular meeting pattern. Hearkening back to our guiding principles, we want to increase our accountability to the communities we serve, expand people’s access to our advocacy, and empower new super-awesome activist volunteers. To do that, we’re moving our meetings.
We will continue to meet on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 7:30pm, but now we’re bringing the meeting to you! On the first Tuesday, we’ll meet at Casa Ruby, located at 2822 Georgia Avenue NW. On the third Tuesday, we’ll be at Transgender Health Empowerment, 1414 North Capitol Street NW. And if you need a reminder, just keep your eye on the info bar to your right.
In addition to meeting you where you’re at, we’ll be regularly engaging in activist lunches on Fridays at both Transgender Health Empowerment and Casa Ruby to help people new to grassroots organizing build and share their skills. And from time to time we’ll have new volunteer orientation alongside our regular meetings.
We hope to see so many more of your beautiful faces at one of our upcoming meetings!
Now for a few updates:
- You can still participate in our Needs Assessment! Click here to learn how to take the survey or to donate generously of your time or treasure.
- We’re continuing our work to keep the Metropolitan Police Department accountable. You can make your voice heard at an open house for MPD’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit on Thursday, September 27 from 5-9pm, right off of Dupont Circle.
- It’s time to start planning for the Transgender Day of Remembrance! If you’d like to get involved, there’s a meeting tonight at Transgender Health Empowerment at 6:00pm (conveniently right before our first meeting at THE!).
See you soon!
This week we’re raising awareness about trans rights, demanding justice for all trans people, and remembering those we’ve lost to anti-trans violence. Here’s how you can take part:
Tuesday, November 15
DCTC will host its bi-monthly meeting at 7:30pm in the Austin Center at Whitman-Walker Health, 14th & R Streets NW. Get updates on our needs assessment project, our work regarding the police and jails, and help us create our upcoming community forum on December 3 (stay tuned for details). Plus much, much more! Anyone who wants to fight for justice is welcome to attend.
Thursday, November 17
We’ve teamed up with TLGB Police Watch and a number of other local organizations for Trans Day of Action. Join us at 1:00pm for a rally in front of Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters, 300 Indiana Avenue NW. We’ll proceed from there to the US Attorney’s Office, at 555 4th Street NW. Check out our goals and demands for the mayor, the police chief, and the US Attorney, and feel free to share details with your friends on Facebook.
Sunday, November 20
Please join us for the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance service, organized by Transgender Health Empowerment, at 5:00pm at the Metropolitan Community Church, 474 Ridge Street NW. We’ve lost at least two members of our community to violence this year, and many more have been injured. Help us to honor their memories.
After a brutal summer, we are excited to share some positive results from our collective struggle to improve the lives of trans folks in the District. After talks between trans advocates and D.C. Mayor Gray, 21 trans individuals are participating in Project Empowerment’s pilot program to combat transphobic discrimination. NPR has an in-depth look.
DCTC is doing all we can to support the participants and make it a success. We are very excited to be part of this ground-breaking effort to address unemployment in our communities, and we hope the District will continue to fund similar potentially life-saving resources.
In response to the recent string of violence, we’ve received an unprecedented amount of letters of support in the past few weeks. We are looking forward to a busy fall, so if you’re thinking about getting involved now is a great time! We are gearing up for our next semi-annual Community Forum, tentatively scheduled for October 23rd. Here is a bit more news from our active campaigns…
- We just passed a major hurdle toward receiving funding so that we can begin Phase Two. Our Needs Assessment Working Group is in the process of designing the paper survey that will soon be distributed. If you’d like to help out, they meet on the second and third Tuesdays of the month. Click here to learn more.
- In case you missed it, be sure to check out the critically important results from our community roundtable discussions at the Phase One Summary Report.
- DCTC members recently attended the first ever meeting of the D.C. Department of Corrections Transgender Advisory Council, a new body meant to increase transparency and community oversight into how the DOC is handling trans inmates. We will have more updates shortly!
- A Corrections officer is currently being investigated for issuing death threats against two trans women. We are following this case closely.
Responding to Violence and Hate Crimes
- DCTC is continuing to work with community members in response to the many recent instances of violence involving trans women and/or motivated by transphobia. Click here, here and here to see media interviews with DCTC members.
- Adding to our fears that the string of murders was motivated by bias, the makeshift memorial to Lashai Mcclean that was left at the site she was murdered (and near where two other trans women were shot weeks later) has been burned.
- The death of Gaurav Gopalan was recently ruled a homicide.
- An arrest was made in the shooting of a trans woman in Southeast.
- We are working with our allies at Transgender Health Empowerment and elsewhere to organize this year’s Trans Day of Remembrance and other events around November 20th. If you’d like to help, watch for an announcement about the next TDOR Planning Meeting.
- Members of DCTC have recently attended early meetings with other community organizations who are working to create a new coalition called TLGB Police Watch.
- We maintain regular communication with the Metropolitan Police Department to express our concern about transphobia in MPD. We want to make sure that officers are being properly trained, and we want MPD to take the recent crimes against trans people seriously.
- We are preparing to conduct another round of training for the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit.
- We continue to monitor the legal case against Officer Furr, who recently shot at a group of trans people and their friends while off-duty.
Earlier in the weekend, at around 6:10am Saturday morning, we were informed by MPD that a body had been discovered at 11th & Fairmont Streets NW in Columbia Heights. According to MPD, the deceased person was believed to be a Latina trans woman. DCTC members arrived at the crime scene within an hour, and received an update from MPD’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. Throughout Saturday morning and again later that evening, several Latina trans community members made phone calls and went door to door in Columbia Heights checking on friends and acquaintances and trying to track down anyone who could not be reached. Around 9:00am on Sunday, DCTC member Ruby Corado was presented with a photo of the deceased by MPD homicide detectives, but was unable to make an identification. The case is being investigated as a suspicious death, and the DC medical examiner has been unable to determine a cause of death.
On August 4th, representatives from the DC Trans Coalition, Transgender Health Empowerment, and the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance met with Mayor Vince Gray to discuss barriers to employment for trans people in the District. In a follow-up e-mail, Jeffrey Richardson, head of the DC Office of GLBT Affairs, summed up the Mayor’s commitments:
1) The Gray Administration is committed to expand cultural diversity training across District Government with a focus on LGBT and specifically transgender cultural competency.
a. The Mayor has directed DC Department of Human Resources, The Office of Human Rights, and The Office of GLBT Affairs to begin working on the development of a training module that the administration will pilot and make mandatory for all District Government employees upon full implementation. The Mayor has asked for the training module to be in place for implementation planning by October 1, 2011.
2) The Department of Employment Services will run a pilot of their transitional employment program targeting members of the transgender community. The program includes six weeks of training coupled with subsidized paid employment.
a. DOES will have the pilot run of the transitional employment program targeting members of the transgender community ready for implementation by September 5, 2011.
b. The Office of GLBT Affairs will work with DOES to ensure there is community engagement in the development and implementation of the pilot program.
We are excited to see such positive progress, and look forward to holding the Gray Administration accountable to these promises. The groups will reconvene in the future to continue the on-going dialog on how to address barriers to trans employment. We also hope that future discussions will include voices from a broader range of stakeholders.